Get Together

Hector Espinal of WRU Crew: Bringing neighbors together to run through Washington Heights

Episode Summary

In this episode, we interview Hector Espinal, co-founder of WRU Crew, an exceptional run club in New York City. Hec and co-founder Josh Mock lead runners through the streets of Washington Heights once every week, even through the dead of winter. As many as 100 diverse runners gather at the same spot on Mondays at 7:00 pm then take to the streets to hoots and hollers of support from folks in the neighborhood. How did Hector build something so special? We sat down with him in Central Park to learn more.

Episode Notes

"Running uptown isn't normal, especially our kind of social running.
You might see one middle-aged white person running along Riverside
Drive on a long run, but you never saw anyone running on Broadway,
Amsterdam, or Washington Avenue. So when people started seeing a big
group of us running, it’s very, very different from what they’re used
to." - Hector Espinal, WRU Crew

Growing up in NYC’s Washington Heights neighborhood, Hector Espinal never imagined he’d one day become a runner. “I've never played any sports. All the men in my family are really into sports but me, so I’ve always kind of been the black sheep,” Hec told us. And looking back, he and his friends felt like their neighborhood discouraged a healthy lifestyle, with fast food joints on every corner and few public spaces to play in.

To motivate himself to get fit five years ago, Hector Espinal would invite everyone he knew to join him on runs. Hec stuck with it week in and week out, and soon he had a group of regulars joining him. Today We Run Uptown, or WRU Crew, the run club Hec started, meets every week, even through the dead of winter. As many as 100 diverse runners gather at the same spot in Washington Heights on Mondays at 7:00 pm then take to the streets to hoots and hollers of support from folks in the neighborhood.

How did Hector build something so special? We sat down with him in Central Park to learn more.

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Get Together is a podcast about the nuts and bolts of community building. Hosts Bailey Richardson and Kevin Huynh of People & Company ask organizers who have built exceptional communities about just how they did it. How did they get the first people to show up? How did they grow to thousands more members?